Can You Earn Scholarships Without The FAFSA?

The short answer is yes, you can get scholarships without the FAFSA. But, not filing the FAFSA may limit your scholarship opportunities. Here are a few things you should know about the relationship between FAFSA and scholarships. And more importantly, why we strongly recommend filling out the FAFSA if you’re applying to college or are already in college.

Student on laptop applying for scholarships

How Scholarships Are Awarded

Scholarships are awarded by a number of different entities including the federal government, some states, colleges, and private organizations. The eligibility requirements for these scholarships vary significantly.

Most schools don’t require students to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for merit scholarships. However, this is not standard practice. Scholarship policies vary from one college to another. Some colleges may not offer merit aid to students who have not filled out the FAFSA. Additionally, some private schools may also require students to file the FAFSA to avail of scholarships.

It is mandatory to file the FAFSA to apply for federal government and state scholarships while private organizations generally don’t require it.


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Why Some Colleges Require the FAFSA for Scholarships

There are several different reasons why some colleges require the FAFSA for awarding scholarships.

Colleges that require the FAFSA use the information on the form to screen applications. Some may use it to verify citizenship so that only citizens and those eligible for Federal aid are considered for scholarships. Other colleges use the FAFSA to make sure that the student has maximized their need-based aid. These colleges won’t consider you for merit-based aid without the FAFSA because it indicates that you don’t need financial aid.

Still others use the FAFSA information as a deciding factor for students who are on the borderline for merit scholarships. If, for example, three students are tied for the scholarship award. A student who has maximized their need-based aid on the FAFSA will get preference because the family perceives a need. If you didn’t fill the FAFSA, it indicates you don’t need the financial aid. In this situation, you would lose out on the federal student aid as well as the scholarship award.

Why You Should Fill Out the FAFSA Every Year

Your FAFSA application is only valid for one year. To receive any type of financial aid for every year you’re in college, you to fill out the FAFSA every year. Financial experts advise students to file the FAFSA every year regardless of whether or not they are applying for scholarships. And regardless of whether or not their parents can afford to pay the fees from their personal savings.

These are just some of the reasons why filling the FAFSA every year is so important.

  1. You may have won a scholarship that helps cover the cost of tuition for the current year. But most scholarships are not recurring. You have to apply again the next year. What if you don’t qualify the next year? If you haven’t applied for the FAFSA for that particular academic year, the only alternative would be to take expensive personal loans.
  2. Your financial need may change from one year to the next. You may not need or qualify for aid in the current year. However, a lot can happen between now and the next year. Your parents’ income may change. The cost of college may change depending on your program. You may decide to transfer. Your sibling may start college in the next year or two. Any one of these could change your need for financial aid.

Although you can get scholarships without FAFSA, it is advisable to go ahead and file it anyway. The form is free. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. If, for whatever reason, you decided against it, these are a few scholarships that don’t require FAFSA.

Scholarships That Don’t Require FAFSA

1. Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

The David-Putter Scholarship Fund offers multiple awards every year to students who are active in progressive movements for social and economic justice. These are need-based scholarships for undergraduates at college or university level. You don’t have to be a US citizen to apply for this scholarship. But you must have participated in relevant activities in the US. You must also be planning to enroll in an accredited undergraduate or graduate program in the US.

2. American Nuclear Society (ANS) John and Muriel Landis Scholarship

The American Nuclear Society (ANS) John and Muriel Landis Scholarship offers $1,000 – $4,000 every year to students pursuing careers in nuclear engineering, nuclear science or other nuclear-related fields. It is open to high school seniors, undergrad students and graduate students.

3. La Unidad Latina Foundation Scholarship

The La Unidad Latina Foundation Scholarship offers $501.00 – $1000.00 to Hispanic students enrolled in an eligible bachelor’s or master’s degree program. Applicants must reside in the US and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.80. Undocumented students and non-US citizens are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

4. Foster Care to Success Scholarship

The Foster Care to Success Scholarship offers awards ranging from $2,500 – $5,000 based on a combination of need and merit. The award is renewable for up to five years if you remain compliant with the program. To qualify for this scholarship, you must have been in foster care for twelve consecutive months leading up to your 18th birthday. Or you must have been adopted or placed into legal guardianship after your 16th birthday.

5. Momeni Foundation Financial Assistance Scholarship        

The Momeni Foundation Financial Assistance Scholarship offers ten scholarships every year for amounts ranging from $500 – $1000.00 each. The scholarship is open to high school students and current college students of all levels and of Iranian descent.

Although you can get scholarships without FAFSA, your options are severely limited. We strongly advice all students to fill out this free form. If you need help, check out our free question-by-question FAFSA guide!

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